Good Question: Do I get to keep my unused sick days?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It’s November, we’re in the final stretch of 2021, and the end of the first full year of mandatory paid sick leave in New York. So what happens to your hours left over?

Can you save your sick hours built up throughout this year when the calendar turns to 2022?

That’s a Good Question. It’s something to think about kind of in the same way we plan out unused vacation days. Here’s the key difference though: Unlike paid sick time, there’s nothing guaranteeing all or some of your vacation carries over, that’s up to your bosses and their policy.

But there are strict rules for sick days, and they are very clear.

"Sick leave that is unused by an employee over the course of the year must be carried over to the next calendar year."

So yes, you’re protected, the rules go on to state:

"Employers may limit employee use to the number of hours that the employee is entitled to use within any calendar year."

What does that mean? Well, under the law, private-sector employees can get anywhere from 40 to 56 hours of paid sick leave annually, it just depends on the size of the business.

For carrying over — if you didn’t take sick time this year, you don’t lose it.

Your bosses can still cap what you can use at the yearly limit, meaning many people will always have more sick time saved than what they can actually take.

What’s the benefit of carrying over? With cap limits, you can use it right away instead of waiting to accrue new sick hours next year, picking up at least one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked.

That may not matter depending on your situation because employers can go ahead and front load this. The move gives you all your yearly sick time when January hits.


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